Sixteen Candles Movie Poster Image

Sixteen Candles



Racy, drunken, hilarious '80s high school comedy.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While the movie doesn't raise profound issues, it addresses the difficulty of the teen/high school years in a way that teens can relate to. Sam's happiness is very much wrapped up in a guy.

Positive role models

At the film's center is a plucky teenage heroine with whom girls can identify. That said, the Chinese exchange student is reduced to a grossly offensive stereotype, and Sam's elderly grandparents don't fare much better. Jake is earnestly sweet about his interest in Sam, but he doesn't demonstrate much respect for his longtime girlfriend, Carolyn.


Mild slapstick violence. In one scene, it's implied that a teen boy had sex with a girl while she was passed-out drunk.


Teens and sex are central, with lots of talk about body parts, much of it vulgar. Kissing. A shower scene shows a girl's naked torso. A high school kid coaxes a girl into giving him her panties and shows them to bathroom full of freshmen for a dollar. Drunken sex is implied.


Some use of the words "f--k" and "s--t."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink to the point of passing out. Hung-over characters question whether they were intimate while drunk. A woman overdoes muscle-relaxant pills and gets completely loopy.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that John Hughes' hilarious '80s high school comedy has both sharply observed moments and now-dated stereotypes. Although it's rated PG (it was released before the PG-13 option existed), this is an adult comedy with teen characters. The teens drink, have sex, and talk about birth control; in one scene, it's implied that a guy had sex with a girl while she was passed-out drunk. Parents may want to exercise caution with more impressionable kids, and especially preteens or younger. But this smart exploration of adolescent life will be fun for teens and adults.

What's the story?

Sam (Molly Ringwald) is turning 16, but her family has forgotten her birthday because of her sister's impending wedding. At school, Sam has a crush on a senior, Jake, who might not know she's alive. Fortunately for Sam, Jake is tiring of his prom-queen girlfriend. With help from a freshman super-geek (Anthony Michael Hall), Jake sets his sights on Sam, but will he find her amidst her sister's wedding chaos to fulfill her birthday wish?

Is it any good?


SIXTEEN CANDLES is a hair-raising tour of adolescence. Sam is a girl in the throes of her first crush, and she's desperately insecure about her body. A sublimely awkward dork dogs her heels, alternately yearning for approval and crassly propositioning her. She's infatuated with a senior god and intimidated by his goddess girlfriend.

The movie doesn't raise profound issues or craft scenes of special beauty. However, this is John Hughes at his best; he captures the nuances of adolescent slang and recreates the little humiliations that can make teen life a living hell. It's all in the details: When Sam's grandmother checks out Sam's "perky boobies" with a squeeze, you'll wonder how anyone gets through high school.

Families can talk about...

  • Discuss Sam's insecurity. How could her family have eased some of the anxiety of adolescence?

  • Discuss the stereotype of Long Duk Dong. How has that stereotype changed today?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1984
DVD/Streaming release date:January 19, 1999
Cast:Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, Molly Ringwald
Director:John Hughes
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:High school, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:93 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bymanay_4511 September 25, 2010

This should be rated R for ages 18 and older, but I commened that its for 16 years and older.

This movie is fine, except that it shows a naked girl in a shower in a beginning (breasts are really shown). It should be rated R (restricted). Its a crude, silly movie to see but not for kids. And there are no violence, but slapstick of course.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byThis 17 year ol... August 4, 2009

PG? More like Porno-Graphic!

How can this have POSSIBLY received a PG rating?!? The "f" word was used within 5 minutes! The teens talked about sex constantly. A view of a completely naked teenager in the gym shower was the point when we turned the movie off; it's way too explicit. How did this rightfully earn a PG rating? Take this 17 year old's advice: Do your kid a favor and don't let them watch it.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byvengle723 November 15, 2014

not exactly as i remembered it

i was a teenager when this movie came out, and i saw it more times than i can count. i loved it then and i love it now, but coming back to it for the first time after many years, i had a very different take on it than i had as an adolescent. there's some dated and stereotyped language ("faggot" stood out to me), the kind of thing that was ok in the 80s but really isn't anymore. but a much bigger concern for me has to do with one of the major plot points of the second half of the movie: two of the male leads discuss at length the prospect of taking sexual advantage of the older boy's unconscious girlfriend. the boyfriend comments casually that he could "violate her ten different ways," but is too bored with her to bother. he then passes her on to the younger boy with express permission to do whatever he wants with her, as long as he makes sure she gets home. the scenario is presented as a humorous fulfillment of every dweeby guy's fantasy, and the second half of the movie revolves around it, but of course, what they're actually talking about is the rape of an intoxicated teenager. when the dweeby guy and the girlfriend wake up the next morning, it appears that the fantasy came true--but as it turns out, she's happy about it. this plot line never bothered me as a young person, but it sure disturbs me now. i still love the movie, but i'm in no rush to show it to my kids.


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